Monday, November 24, 2008

Kids' Parties at SoFAB

We have finally created kids' cooking birthday parties at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. They are for kids between the ages of 3 and 12 and the different themes make me want to be that age again.

During our summer culinary camp, one child constantly asked, "If I do _______, will the ______ blow up?" I created, "Mad Chemist in the Kitchen: The Science of Cooking" with you in mind, buddy.

Other themes are Soul Food, Louisiana Food, Southern Vegetarian, Playing with Food, and SoFAB's Top Chef (Cooking Like a TV Pro). For more info, click here.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Maison Blanche Lives!!!

The SoFAB Store carries a variety of one-of-a-kind items by regional artists and artisans. Our Christmas selection is no less unique. Among this years' hot items are the Mr. Bingle Coasters by New Orleans artist Kat Sagers. The set of four 4X4" tiles feature a Mr Bingle imprint of him fluttering about, and sells for $20. Each Bingle tile is a different color.

Mr. Bingle, for those of you not from New Orleans, is an iconic figure in the city's Christmas history whose importance to Christmas far outweighs that Santa Claus dude and his reindeer- even Ernie K. Doe! Bingle was employed by the Maison Blanche Department Store in 1947 as a spokesmodel for Chrismas and is considered the saviour of that company's bottom line for many a year.

Please visit his website at, get in the Christmas spirit, then visit the SoFAB Store and till it hurts!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


On Saturday SoFAB dedicated and named the tasting room. What was once generic is now the Edward A. Johnston and Carolyn T. Pearce Tasting Room.

I want to celebrate Edward and Carolyn. This desire to celebrate them is very personal, because they are two very accomplished people who listened to me for 4 years talk about the creation of a food museum in New Orleans that would preserve and educate, exhibit and collect, and become an important intellectual institution. They not only did not laugh at the idea, but they saw its merit and they believed that it could be done. When they talked about it with their friends and family, I am not sure that all shared their faith. But Edward and Carolyn made the leap of believing that we could create a real institution at the kitchen table.

I would like to honor their imagination, their perseverance, and their ability to see the mission through. Thank you Edward and Carolyn.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mockingbird and Ambrosia Salad: Who'd a thunk?

One of the pleasures of reading Mockingbird was becoming re-acquainted with ambrosia salad.

When a family member says they will be bringing ambrosia to a party or event, chances are they are talking about a popular salad that generally contains oranges, pineapple chunks, grapes, cocoanut and nuts. Some versions contain marshmallows, whipping cream, or sour cream while other recipes contain fruit cocktail, grapefruit or vanilla pudding. It’s a salad with plenty of options.

To the ancient Greeks, ambrosia has had many meanings too. Though researchers are not certain what the ancient Greeks thought the composition of ambrosia was (or its liquid counterpart “nectar”), it is believed that these mythical foods had some connection to honey.

In ancient Greek mythology, ambrosia gives immortality to those who consume it. Ambrosia also was guaranteed to satisfy the hunger or thirst of the residents of Mount Olympus. It was said that ambrosia was delivered to the gods by sacred doves.

There are several examples in Greek myth in which ambrosia is used by the gods and goddesses as a sort of balm, indicating the conference of to confer grace or even immortality (in the case of mortals) onto the recipient. When Achilles is born, Thetis anoints the infant with ambrosia and passes the child through the fire to make him immortal. In the Iliad, Apollo washes blood from the corpse of Sarpedon and anoints it with ambrosia, readying it for its ethereal return to Sarpedon's home of Lycia. Later, the sea-nymph Thetis uses ambrosia and nectar to preserve the body of the dead warrior Patroclus.

Making ambrosia involves no cooking, just mixing. Start with a very basic recipe, such as the one below.

· 1 cup orange juice
· 3 medium oranges, peeled and sectioned
· 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks, undrained
· 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved
· 1/2 cup shredded coconut
· 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Combine juice, orange sections, pineapple, and grapes, stirring gently to blend. Refrigerate until time to serve. Fold in coconut and pecans just before serving.This recipe serves six people.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Food

While writing last week’s newsletter piece on election cake, I began to wonder what sort of things political people currently eat on election night. I imagined a friend of mine, who works on Capitol Hill, tasting different election cakes, arguing over which was better, kicking back in a large leather arm chair, maybe drinking a blue cocktail while watching the results roll in. Nope.

According to my friend, “Campaign offices are all about junk food and leftover Halloween candy. People bake brownies. Lots of pizza. We've been getting fat eating donuts and drinking coffee.” In four years, maybe I’ll mail his office an election cake.